Cannons and Musket Fire to Salute the End of Summer at Compass Inn Museum’s Living History Weekend


On August 19th and 20th from 10 am to 4 pm step back in time on the historic grounds of Compass Inn Museum as Ligonier Valley Historical Society presents its final Living History Weekend of the summer. During the weekend, interact with present-day Proctor’s Independent Battalion of Westmoreland County, an American Revolutionary War Reenactment Unit that portrays military and frontier life in Southwestern Pennsylvania during the late 18th-Century. 

John Proctor was the Sheriff of Westmoreland County during the mid-1700s. He was given the rank of Colonel after the Revolutionary War commanding the Pennsylvania 1st Battalion, one of the first military units formed west of the Allegheny Mountains. Proctor’s Independent Battalion, named after Colonel John Proctor, was formed and tasked with protecting the eastern border of Westmoreland County and the western frontier border of the Laurel Highlands from Native and British attacks. Interestingly around this period, the “Wild West” wasn’t as far west as one would think.

Present-day Proctor’s Independent Battalion will depict the lives of minutemen, men trained in weaponry and military strategies ready to fight at a minute’s notice, as well as their camp followers, ladies who may have been seamstresses, laundresses, cooks, female relatives, or wives of the soldiers. The battalion will be encamped with canvas tents and other daily survival gear on the Museum grounds throughout the entire weekend. 

The reenactment group also includes traders and craftsmen possibly demonstrating rifle carving, general 18th-Century woodworking, tanning, quill pen and ink calligraphy, and other crafts essential for daily life of the late 18th Century. The men and women of Proctor’s Independent Battalion will give military demonstrations, including daily firing of muskets and a cannon along with a glimpse into the daily frontier lifestyle in Westmoreland County from 1775 through 1795, when Proctor’s Battalion was actively protecting the region. The Historical Society will have hands-on activities for visitors throughout the weekend, especially for children visiting the grounds.

“The present-day Proctor’s Independent Battalion group embodies the historic 18th-Century unit and its role in the protection of early settlers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Without groups like the historic battalion, settlement of communities west of the Allegheny Mountains such as Laughlintown would have been a much more difficult and dangerous venture. By interacting with the reenactors, visitors will understand the importance of what Proctor’s Battalion was doing in Westmoreland as well as the many roles that went into making the group function,” states Theresa Gay Rohall, Executive Director of Ligonier Valley Historical Society, which operates Compass Inn Museum. “Ligonier Valley Historical Society is thankful for the return of Proctor’s to Compass Inn Museum for another engaging and exciting historical event.”

Several of the reenactors have direct ties to early American military history through their ancestry. Scott Henry, current Captain of Proctor’s Independent Battalion, can tie his ancestry to one of the original Proctor’s battalion members, Joahan Jakob Galitin. “I take pride in leading this present-day reenactment unit as its Captain to keep this part of Westmoreland County history alive but also to connect with my family heritage who settled in this region,” comments Henry. Ligonier Valley Historical Society former board member and Proctor’s reenactor Tom Klingensmith also traces his lineage back to family members who settled in Hanna’s Town (south of modern-day Greensburg) during the 18th Century. Current Ligonier Valley Historical Society board member, Michael Doucette, traced his lineage back to an ancestor who fought in the campaign to take Fort Niagara during the French and Indian War. This tie to his personal heritage and love of history inspired Doucette to become a proud historical reenactor with Proctor’s Independent Battalion.

As always, tours of the historic Compass Inn and outbuildings will be included in the Living History admission fee. In addition, there will be cooking and blacksmithing demonstrations as well as a variety of activities for children. General admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (62+), $10 for youth (6-17), and free for active members of the military, Ligonier Valley Historical Society members, and children ages 5 & younger. Tickets can be purchased on-site on the day of the event.